Thunder on the Mountain

Last updated
"Thunder on the Mountain"
ThunderontheMountainsingle.jpeg
European CD single cover
Song by Bob Dylan
from the album Modern Times
ReleasedAugust 29, 2006
RecordedFebruary 2006
Studio Clinton Recording, New York City
Genre Folk rock, rock and roll, rockabilly
Length5:55
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Bob Dylan
Producer(s) Bob Dylan (as Jack Frost)
Modern Times track listing

"Thunder on the Mountain" is a song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in 2006 as the first track on his album Modern Times . Like much of Dylan's 21st century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

Contents

The song had considerable success, garnering more airtime on U.S. radio than any track on the album next to "Someday Baby". Even though it was not released as a single in America, it still managed to spend nine weeks on Billboard's Adult Alternative Songs chart, peaking at #22 in January 2007. [1] It was released as a single in various European countries in late 2006 and early 2007. [2]

Composition and recording

In their book Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track, authors Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon note that, lyrically, the song juxtaposes references to religion and romance. They describe the music as having "a touch of Chuck Berry's style, particularly in the guitar licks and riffs reminiscent of 'Let It Rock'" and claim that "[t]his rock song is a good way to open Modern Times, even if its overall style is fairly standard. The sound and production are similar to that of Love and Theft, and Dylan's new musicians are excellent". [3] The song is performed in the sounding key of B-flat major. [4]

Critical reception

Andy Greene, writing in Rolling Stone , where the song placed ninth on a list of "The 25 Best Bob Dylan Songs of the 21st Century", noted an ironic counterpoint between the song's upbeat sound, "somewhere between rockabilly and Western swing", and its apocalyptic lyrics: "[T]he song has some not-atypical judgment-day-is-coming, woe-to-mankind overtones, but this time Dylan seems pretty cheerful about it all". [5]

Spectrum Culture included the song on a list of Dylan's "20 Best Songs of the '00s". In an article accompanying the list, critic John Paul praised Dylan's lyrics for "such brilliant verbal choices as rhyming 'sons of bitches' with 'orphanages' and the made-for-each-other couplet, 'I got the pork chops, she got the pie / She Ain’t no angel and neither am I'...Nearly half a century into his legendary career, he still managed to keep people scratching their heads while tapping their feet and nodding along to the infectious flow of his delivery and impeccable backing musicians". [6]

NJ Arts critic Jay Lustig identified it as his favorite song on Modern Times and referred to it as "the rollicking opening track...which manages to be both grandly mythical and deeply quirky". [7]

Cultural references

Dylan references his former residence, Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan and a former resident, Alicia Keys. He claims to have been inspired to write the song after admiring Keys' performance at the 2002 Grammy Awards. [8] These lines, however, are themselves a veiled reference to the Memphis Minnie song "Ma Rainey". [9]

The line "I've been sitting down studying The Art of Love" is the first of many references to the Ancient Roman poet Ovid on Modern Times. [10]

The song is studded with biblical allusions: The title, for example, evokes the divine presence at Mount Sinai in the Book of Exodus while the line "Today's the day I'm gonna grab my trombone and blow" suggests Dylan himself playing the role of the archangel Gabriel blowing his horn. [11]

Music video

Screen capture from the "Thunder on the Mountain" music video ThunderontheMountainvideo.png
Screen capture from the "Thunder on the Mountain" music video

An official music video was made for the song, which consists entirely of archival footage of many of Dylan's film and television performances over the decades - from the mid-1960s through the early 21st century. The video premiered at Slate on December 8, 2006. Popsugar called the video "a great trip, chronicling the many guises of the formerly nostalgia-phobic Bob over the years". [12]

Live performances

As of December 8, 2019, the date of Dylan's most recent concert, he has performed the song live 788 times. This makes it the most frequently played song from Modern Times by a significant margin. [13] The live debut occurred at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington on October 13, 2006 and the last performance (to date) took place at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 2019. [14]

Notable covers

The song was covered by The Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh and The Allman Brothers Band's Warren Haynes at a live charity concert benefiting the Music for Youth Foundation at Lincoln Center in New York City on November 9, 2006. [15]

American rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson recorded a version of the song, produced and featuring lead guitar by Jack White, that was released as a single and on Jackson's The Party Ain't Over album in 2011. In Jackson's version, the name "Jerry Lee" was substituted for "Alicia Keys". [16] According to Jackson, it was Dylan's idea that she record the song: "Jack and Bob have, I think, a rather special relationship, so Jack wanted me to do a song of [Dylan's], and he called him and asked which song would he choose? And Bob Dylan is also a fan of mine, which I wasn't aware of, and he said, 'Well, it has to be "Thunder on the Mountain". There's just no doubt about that'". [17]

Notes

  1. "Bob Dylan". Billboard. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  2. "Singles All Formats International 2000-09". searchingforagem.com. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  3. Margotin, Philippe; Jean-Michel Guesdon (2015). Bob Dylan : all the songs : the story behind every track (First ed.). New York. ISBN   1-57912-985-4. OCLC   869908038.
  4. "Thunder on the Mountain | dylanchords". dylanchords.com. Retrieved 2021-05-28.
  5. Vozick-Levinson, Jon Dolan,Patrick Doyle,Andy Greene,Brian Hiatt,Angie Martoccio,Rob Sheffield,Hank Shteamer,Simon; Dolan, Jon; Doyle, Patrick; Greene, Andy; Hiatt, Brian; Martoccio, Angie; Sheffield, Rob; Shteamer, Hank; Vozick-Levinson, Simon (2020-06-18). "The 25 Best Bob Dylan Songs of the 21st Century". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  6. "Bob Dylan's 20 Best Songs of the '00s". Spectrum Culture. 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  7. "Bob Dylan: Favorite songs from each album of the '00s (WITH VIDEOS)". NJArts.net. 2021-06-23. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  8. Margotin, Philippe; Guesdon, Jean-Michel (2015). Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. Hachette UK. ISBN   9780316353533.
  9. "Pressing On, after the thunder, a declaration | Untold Dylan" . Retrieved 2020-12-13.
  10. "Bob Dylan: Modern Times". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
  11. Lieb, Michael; Mason, Emma; Roberts, Jonathan (2013). The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible. OUP Oxford. p. 365. ISBN   9780199670390.
  12. Entertainment (2006-12-11). "Music Video: Bob Dylan, "Thunder on the Mountain"". POPSUGAR Entertainment. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  13. "Bob Dylan Tour Statistics | setlist.fm". www.setlist.fm. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  14. "Setlists | The Official Bob Dylan Site". www.bobdylan.com. Retrieved 2021-05-28.
  15. "Bob Dylan Tribute: Great Tunes, Less Mumbling". glidemagazine.com. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  16. "Wanda Jackson "Thunder on the Mountain"". 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  17. "Wanda Jackson 'Wasn't Sure' Jack White Collaboration Would Work on 'Party Ain't Over'". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-03-03.

Related Research Articles

"Spirit on the Water" is a love ballad written and performed by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in 2006 as the second track on his album Modern Times. The title is a reference to a passage in the Book of Genesis. It is notable for being the only song on Modern Times to feature a harmonica solo. As with much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"When the Deal Goes Down" is a love song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, originally released as the fourth track on his 2006 album Modern Times and anthologized on the compilation albums Dylan in 2007 and reissues of The Essential Bob Dylan beginning in 2010. As with much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Nettie Moore" is a folk love song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in 2006 as the eighth track on his album Modern Times. As with much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Ain't Talkin" is a song written and performed by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, appearing as the tenth and final track on his 2006 album Modern Times. As with most of Dylan's 21st century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"High Water " is a song written and performed by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released as the seventh track on his 31st studio album "Love and Theft" in 2001 and anthologized on the compilation album Dylan in 2007. Like much of Dylan's 21st century output, he produced the track himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Mississippi" is a medium-tempo country-rock song by the American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan that appears as the second track on his 2001 album Love and Theft. The song was originally recorded during the Time Out of Mind sessions, but was ultimately left off the album. Dylan rerecorded the song for Love and Theft in May 2001.

"Workingman's Blues #2" is a song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released as the sixth track on his 2006 album Modern Times. As with much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

Political World 1989 song by Bob Dylan

"Political World" is an uptempo folk rock song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released as the opening track on his 1989 album Oh Mercy and as a single in Europe in 1990. It was produced by Daniel Lanois.

Beyond Here Lies Nothin 2009 song by Bob Dylan

"Beyond Here Lies Nothin' " is a song written by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and performed by Dylan as the opening track on his 2009 studio album Together Through Life. The title is a quote from the ancient Roman poet Ovid. The track was available as a free download on Dylan's official website from March 30 to March 31, 2009, and a photo montage set to the song premiered on Amazon on April 21. It has been anthologized on every reissue of The Essential Bob Dylan since 2010. Like much of Dylan's 21st century output, he produced the song himself using the pseudonym Jack Frost.

<i>Christmas in the Heart</i> 2009 album by Bob Dylan

Christmas in the Heart is the 34th studio album and first Christmas album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on October 13, 2009 by Columbia Records. The album comprises a collection of hymns, carols and popular Christmas songs. All Dylan's royalties from the sale of this album benefit the charities Feeding America in the USA, Crisis in the UK, and the World Food Programme in perpetuity.

Everything Is Broken 1989 single by Bob Dylan

"Everything is Broken" is an uptempo rock song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, and released as the first single from his 1989 album Oh Mercy, where it appears as the third track. It was later anthologized on the compilation albums The Essential Bob Dylan in 2000 and Dylan in 2007. The song spent eight weeks on Billboard's "Mainstream Rock Songs" chart, peaking at number eight on October 27, 1989. It was produced by Daniel Lanois.

Duquesne Whistle 2012 single by Bob Dylan

"Duquesne Whistle" is a song written by Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter that appears as the opening track on Dylan's 2012 studio album Tempest. It was first released as a digital single on August 27, 2012 through Columbia Records then as a music video two days later. A limited edition "Record Store Day" 7" stereo single was released on November 23, 2012. It was also anthologized on the 2014 reissue of The Essential Bob Dylan. Like much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself using the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Soon After Midnight" is a song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan that appears as the second track on his 2012 studio album Tempest. Like much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself using the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Narrow Way" is a blues rock song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan that appears as the third track on his 2012 studio album Tempest. Like much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song using the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Long and Wasted Years" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan that appears as the fourth track on his 2012 studio album Tempest and was anthologized on the 2016 reissue of The Essential Bob Dylan. Like much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself using the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Pay in Blood" is an uptempo rock song written and performed by Bob Dylan that appears as the fifth track on his 2012 studio album Tempest. Like much of Dylan's 21st-century output, he produced the song himself using the pseudonym Jack Frost.

I Contain Multitudes 2020 single by Bob Dylan

"I Contain Multitudes" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, the opening track on his 39th studio album, Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020). It was released as the album's second single on April 17, 2020, through Columbia Records. The title of the song is taken from Section 51 of the poem "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman.

"Lonesome Day Blues" is a twelve-bar blues song written and performed by Bob Dylan that appears as the fifth song on his 2001 album Love and Theft. Like most of Dylan's 21st century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"It's All Good'" is a blues song written by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan that appears as the 10th and final track on Dylan's 2009 studio album Together Through Life. Like much of Dylan's 21st century output, he produced the song himself using the pseudonym Jack Frost.

"Po' Boy" is an acoustic folk/jazz song written and performed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan that appears as the tenth song on his 2001 album Love and Theft. It was anthologized on the compilation album Dylan in 2007. Like most of Dylan's 21st century output, he produced the song himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.